Tag Archives: George Thorogood and the Destroyers

I still want my MTV Christmas

Believe it or not, there was a time when artists made Christmas videos and MTV played them at Christmas time, just as radio would play their Christmas singles at Christmas time. ‘

“Christmas In Hollis” by Run-D.M.C. has become a Christmas tradition. You know that one.

So here are three that are less seen today, yet still among my favorites.

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“Rock & Roll Christmas,” George Thorogood and the Destroyers, 1983, from “A Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas,” 1995.

As you can see, it once was used to rock the house at MTV. Damn! Mark Goodman gets a nice long smooch from a cutie under the mistletoe at 1:55!

And, yes, that appears to be John Lee Hooker as Santa Claus. I once was skeptical, but my friend Larry pointed me to photos of Thorogood and Hooker taken by Bob Leafe at an MTV taping in 1984.

When I went looking for this video last year, it had been wiped from YouTube. Delighted to have it back.

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rnrxmascd

“Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You,” Billy Squier, 1981, also from “A Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas,” 1995.

Squier was one of the biggest stars on MTV at the time, so a Christmas single seemed logical. And who could forget these lyrics: “From grownup to minor/No one could be finer” and “From rooftop to chimney/From Harlem to Bimini.” I know of no other Christmas song with “Bimini” in the lyrics.

Squier lip-syncs it with the MTV VJs and crew on the video. It’s a guilty pleasure, perhaps even corny, but it’s a good memory from that time. Of course, it revives the age-old debate: Nina Blackwood or Martha Quinn?

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“Do They Know It’s Christmas (single edit),” Band Aid, from the 12-inch single, 1984. It’s out of print but is available on “Now That’s What I Call Christmas,” a 2001 CD compilation, and digitally.

Before “We Are The World,” there was this. In 1984, everyone who was anyone on the UK music scene came together as Band Aid to sing “Do They Know It’s Christmas.” Bob Geldof wrote the words. Midge Ure wrote the music. The song, which benefited hunger relief in Ethiopia, was huge — a solid No. 1 in Britain and close to it in the States.

As you watch the video to see what all the fuss was about, see how many of those performers you can name.

Please visit our companion blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2013, Sounds

12 days of Christmas, Day 11

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” was on the other night. Mariah Carey and her mom had their Christmas special, too. “Scrooged” has been on. “Miracle on 34th Street” — the good one, from 1947 — is coming up.

They even screened “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol” in Santa Monica, California, today. (Did you know that when it aired on NBC in 1962, it was the first animated Christmas special?) That was one of my favorites. Kinda scary in places, but still one of my favorites.

I wonder whether they’re showing some of my favorites from another time.

Gather around the hearth, kids, and hear how MTV once aired Christmas videos. It was the early ’80s, and MTV seemed so cutting-edge at the time. Those old videos seem so quaint and innocent now. Our 15-year-old son would take one look at them, roll his eyes and say, “That’s so corny!”

Absolutely. And it wouldn’t be Christmas without them.

Take 1:

“Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You,” Billy Squier, 1981, from “A Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas,” 1995.

Squier lip-syncs it with the MTV VJs and crew on the video. A good memory from that time. It revives the age-old debate: Nina Blackwood or Martha Quinn?

Take 2:

“Rock & Roll Christmas,” George Thorogood and the Destroyers, 1983, from “A Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas,” 1985.

This once rocked the house at MTV. Mark Goodman gets a nice long smooch from a cutie under the mistletoe at 1:55!

(Is that really John Lee Hooker as Santa Claus? My friend Larry says: “I think that may in fact be Hooker as Santa” and points to the photos of Thorogood and Hooker taken by Bob Leafe at an MTV taping in 1984. “I’d love to know for sure,” Larry says. So would I. Ah, those little mysteries.)

Take 3:

“Run Rudolph Run,” Dave Edmunds, 1982, from “A Different Kind of Christmas,” 1994. The CD is out of print but the song is available digitally.

This is from the MTV New Year’s Eve Rock ‘n’ Roll Ball, so Happy New Year 1987, everyone in the Central time zone!

And some others seen on MTV …

Take 4:

“2000 Miles,” the Pretenders, from “Learning to Crawl,” 1983.

Talk about playing a guitar like ringing a bell, quietly, gracefully. A modern Christmas classic about a loved one gone at Christmas. That it came from an album with so many other great, straight-up rock songs — this was the flip side to “Middle of the Road” — makes it all the more remarkable.

Take 5:

“Do They Know It’s Christmas (single edit),” Band Aid, 1985, from the 12-inch single. It’s out of print but is available on “Now That’s What I Call Christmas!” 2001.

Before “We Are The World,” there was this. In 1984, everyone who was anyone on the UK music scene came together as Band Aid to sing “Do They Know It’s Christmas.” Bob Geldof wrote the words. Midge Ure wrote the music. The song, which benefited hunger relief in Ethiopia, was huge — a solid No. 1 in Britain and close to it in the States.

So, how many of those performers you can name?

Take 6:

“Christmas In Hollis,” Run-D.M.C., from “A Very Special Christmas,” 1987.

This one, as always, is for Doug.

Bonus video!

Grace Jones sings “The Little Drummer Boy” on Pee-Wee Herman’s 1988 Christmas special!

 

And now, a word from our sponsor.

It may just be a Midwestern thing, but this used to be a familiar sight at this time of year. It debuted in 1977; this clip is dated 1981.

A friend who once worked at Miller Brewing in Milwaukee told us people so loved this commercial that they’d start calling the brewery in November to try to find out when it was going to air.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2010

Three under the tree, Vol. 41

The below-zero wind chill is gone, and so is my energy.

So we’re gonna keep it simple. Tonight, we rock the tree.

“Rock & Roll Christmas,” George Thorogood and the Destroyers, 1983. As you can see, it once was used to rock the house at MTV. Damn! Mark Goodman gets a nice long smooch from a cutie under the mistletoe at 1:55!

(Is that really John Lee Hooker as Santa Claus as suggested on YouTube? I’m skeptical, but my friend Larry says in the comments: “I think that may in fact be Hooker as Santa” and points to the photos of Thorogood and Hooker taken by Bob Leafe at an MTV taping in 1984. “I’d love to know for sure,” Larry says. So would I. Ah, those little mysteries.)

“Sock It To Me, Santa,” Bob Seger and the Last Heard, 1966. “Deck the Halls” meets Mitch Ryder and James Brown on this rave-up by a young Seger and one of his earliest Detroit bands.

You can find the Seger and Thorogood cuts on “A Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas,” 1995. Also on this fine record: “Christmas Wrapping” by the Waitresses, “Merry Christmas Baby” by Chuck Berry, “I Believe in Father Christmas” by Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and some other faves of the ’70s and ’80s.

“Run Rudolph Run,” Keith Richards, 1978, released as a single with a cover of Jimmy Cliff’s “The Harder They Come” on the flip side. It was re-released in 2007 as a single with a cover of Toots and the Maytals’ “Pressure Drop” as the flip side. (This one is for Chris in Germany.)

Though recorded by Chuck Berry, he didn’t write it. You know “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer?” Johnny Marks wrote all of them.

You can find the Richards and Seger cuts on “Little Steven’s Underground Garage Presents Christmas A Go-Go,” released in 2008. However, the Seger cut is on the CD only and not available digitally.

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Filed under December 2009, Sounds

Two for the blues

That was the name of a show I used to listen to on WORT, the fine indie radio station in Madison, Wisconsin, back in the ’80s. (It’s still on the air, by the way, at 8 p.m. Saturdays. Listen live here.)

If I have the blues today, it’s because summer is hurtling past, and there’s nothing I can do to slow its pace. Too much work, though it beats the alternative. Too much softball and not enough skating, but only I am to blame for that. Too little time to listen to tunes, or to rip them, and then to write the blog, so I’ll try to make amends.

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One for the rockin’ blues: George Thorogood and the Destroyers will be out with a new record later this month. “The Dirty Dozen” is set up a bit like a vinyl LP. The first six cuts are new tunes. The next six are covers, including three from earlier Thorogood albums that have gone out of print.

Thorogood has been rocking the car for the better part of the last week. His new stuff sounds just like his old stuff, and that’s OK with us. We count on George for crunchy, wink-and-a-nod rock, rhythm and blues, and that’s what we get with “The Dirty Dozen.”

“Twenty Dollar Gig,” George Thorogood and the Destroyers, from “The Dirty Dozen,” out July 28 on Capitol/EMI.

The first couple of times I heard this, I thought it was the worst cut on the record. Then I realized its genius was in its locomotive groove, its simple lyrics and Buddy Leach’s sizzling sax. It’s a garage band classic.

albertkingstevierayinsessioncd

Two for the real gone blues: Anyone for some Albert King, playing live in the studio with Stevie Ray Vaughan? I thought you might dig it. “In Session” was recorded in Canada on Dec. 6, 1983, given a modest release in 1999 and reissued last month by Stax.

“Ask Me No Questions,” Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan, from “In Session,” 1999.

There’s plenty here for you blues guitar fans, including an epic-length “Blues at Sunrise,” two other Albert King originals and a cover of Stevie Ray’s “Pride and Joy.” That said, I like my blues cut with keyboards. Like this B.B. King cover featuring Tony Ll0rens on piano.

This is believed to be the only time King and Vaughan played together on a record. Vaughan died in 1990, King in 1992.

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Filed under July 2009, Sounds